Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Mayor To The White House?

Our Town downtown
June 6, 2006

More than a few e-mails from us to out-of-town friends in the past couple months have contained suggestions, at first gingerly, that Mike Bloomberg would make a good president. Those suggestions followed a paragraph or two extolling the mayor for the way he’s run this town. No mean feat when you consider the psychological after-effects of 9/11 with its unknown economic and fearsome security prospects.

This city has grown into impressively good shape during his time in office; so good actually that the assumed outrage over his ‘buying’ his way into a second term after ‘buying’ his way into office initially hasn’t had legs. He is the undisputed boss here and we appear, in polling numbers and in voting margins, to very much like being under his watch.

The e-mails to the midlands were not meant to sound like the views of a New York insider with moxie or of someone so living on Saul Steinberg’s wide coast that they felt that no one but a New York pol could do the job. They weren’t meant to shock either. It wasn’t an effort to get a rise by picking a can’t-win guy. The suggestion simply came out one day in the middle of an e-mail discussing the likely candidates for the next presidential election; Bloomberg slid into our mind somehow and grew by letter’s end into a surprisingly obvious choice. The obvious choice, as we thought about it more.

Since then, we’ve walked around with that notion in mind, that Michael Bloomberg should be president. We’ve watched him speak, we’ve read about his way of dealing with the big and little things of New York. That watching and reading, not to mention living day-to-day here with him in charge, has only supported our growing respect for his presidential capabilities. Additionally we’ve watched and read about the people on the short list for president, mostly Hillary Clinton and John McCain. At this point it’s hard for us to find much about either of those two that’s impressive, McCain’s increasingly-long-ago Vietnam experience notwithstanding. Both Clinton and McCain are so transparently altering themselves to be liked by everyone that either could easily substitute as the host of the Larry King Show.

Bloomberg couldn’t host that show. His whole being is so ‘not that’ that he stands out in his engaging, shy way above the embarrassment of the usual politics. There’s a quiet grace in his manner that’s a pleasure to observe. He never embarrasses himself or us.

Now there are rumblings in the press that maybe the mayor himself is considering the presidency. He denies it of course and says he has the greatest job in the world right here. He’ll finish out his term he promises. But sometimes rumblings are an engine turning over getting ready to go somewhere. He may definitely mean it when he says he’s got the best job in the world. This certainly is the greatest American city. Remember a few years ago when there were articles comparing New York and L.A. like they were neck and neck in some race for the best place? Like they were equals in their own way? You don’t hear that anymore. You seldom even hear about L.A. anymore. Five bucks to anyone who can name the mayor there. We’ve got Mike Bloomberg, who is so respected that a friend, who moved here not long ago after working in Dennis Kucinich’s Washington office and therefore shouldn’t think much of a guy like Mike, thinks he’ll go down as the greatest mayor in New York’s history. You’ve heard such things, maybe thought them yourself. Maybe such a guy should run the whole big show.

He’s smart; speaks intelligently, if not inspiringly. Knows the world. Knows how it works economically. He hires good people. He can keep the business of America running smoothly. And his concern for kids’ education is deep and fearless. On foreign policy matters, he’d be practical and smart. Other than a wife, what doesn’t he have that the job usually requires?

-- Bill Gunlocke

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